The History of Tuxedos

August 11, 2020

Officially, the tuxedo was born on October 10, 1886, the day wealthy American heir Griswold Lorillard walked into New York City's very posh Tuxedo Club sporting a single-breasted jacket without tails. His new take on white tie caused both a scandal and a sensation. From that day forward, the tuxedo became the stuff of legends, and it has since turned into a must for any grand occasion. In memory of its birthplace, North Americans still call it the tuxedo. However, despite its American debut, the tuxedo is of British origin, much like most men's clothing. The Prince of Wales, a major fashion force, had adopted the dinner jacket long before Lorillard's day. In 1860, for an informal soirée at Sandringham, one of the Prince's estates, Savile Row tailor Henry Poole had created a simple jacket exclusively for his Majesty something far less official than a tailcoat. The British used "smoking jacket" to refer to what men would don after dinner in the smoking or billiard room to protect against tobacco odours, which could well indispose ladies upon their return to the parlour.

Cummerbund: The dashing satin sash dubbed the cummerbund originated in India, where men wore wide bands around their waists called kamarbands.

The Top Hat : The top hat dates back to January 15, 1797, to be exact the date English hatter John Hetherington was first seen wearing one in the street. Reactions were so strong that the owner of the extravagant new hat received a fine. This however, did not stop the top hat from becoming a classic element of the elegant man's wardrobe.

Shawl Collar Tuxedo: Duke of Windsor, who, like his grandfather the Prince of Wales, had a keen sense of style and a passion for experimentation when it came to fashion. After all, it was he who popularized the shawl-collared tuxedo jacket in the Roaring Twenties.

Midnight Blue Tuxedo: The Duke of Windsor's creative flair and nonconformist views led him to be the first to wear a dark blue (as opposed to black) tuxedo: under electric light, midnight blue appears blacker than black. The Duke's style was mirrored down to the finest detail by the Brioni house, official tailor to Bond... James Bond, Agent 007.

Tuxedo Shirt: We also have the Duke of Windsor to thank for creating the modern-day tuxedo shirt. He worked with his tailor to develop a shirt with wing collar, double cuffs and pleated dicky.

Riding Coat: Here we have yet another garment from Merry Old England. The Brits have a deep-seated passion for all that is equestrian, and this led them in the 18th century to create a coat for horseback riding and hunting with hounds. The French in turn gallicized the term "riding coat" with "redingote", now used in English to designate a long coat for women with a cutaway front or a contrasting piece on the front.

White Tie or Black Tie: Suitable attire is usually specified on an invitation to a formal function. White tie calls for tails, while black tie requires attendees to wear a tuxedo.